Farmers willing to take ‘hit’ of €1,700 rather than report theft

On average, farmers are willing to take a ‘financial hit’ of €1,711 rather than report an incident of theft, according to the results of a survey carried out by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

The second tranche of results from the ICSA’s Agricultural Crime Survey, which was undertaken in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), was published today, July 4.

This tranche aims to focus on the ‘Financial Costs of Agricultural Crime in Ireland’, the ICSA said.

Alongside this willingness to write-off financial losses, the survey also found that the risk of rising insurance premiums was making many farmers reluctant to report incidents of theft.

Farmers left counting the cost of rural crime

Speaking following the publication of the latest results from the survey, the President of the ICSA, Patrick Kent, said farmers and people in rural Ireland cannot be expected to continue to withstand this level of crime.

The financial cost of agricultural crime is an unacceptable burden and one that cannot be written-off as part and parcel of life in rural Ireland.

“We now have proof that agricultural crime is hitting farmers’ pockets at a time when most are struggling to make ends meet at all.

“Theft, vandalism and fly-tipping all have serious cost implications for farmers, as do increased insurance premiums when farmers have to make a claim,” Kent said.

Meanwhile, the ICSA’s Rural Development Chairman, Seamus Sherlock, highlighted the psychological impact suffered by victims of crime.

As well as the financial cost, there is also the unseen cost of fear and stress caused when your home or farm has been targeted by criminals.

“We are witnessing the whole fabric of rural society being decimated, with farmers feeling more and more isolated and side-lined. Nobody should have to live in a state of constant fear and anxiety,” he said.

Previously, the results of the survey – which was responded to by 861 farmers – revealed that two-thirds of Irish farming families have been affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise.

Cost of theft

Out of the total number of respondents to the survey, 849 admitted that they had been victims of theft between January 1, 2014 and May 31, 2016.

Meanwhile, 351 respondents recorded experiencing 652 incidents of theft of a farm related asset(s) during the prescribed period.

The value of the asset(s) stolen was quantified by the respondents, using a list of 33 ranges of value, in 552 of the 652 incidents of farm theft that were recorded.

The approximate total value of assets stolen in the incidents of theft recorded by these respondents was €963,375, the ICSA added.

The survey also revealed that the average value of assets recorded as stolen in an incident of theft was €1,818.

Respondents to the survey reportedly recorded 14 of these incidents as robbery.

In relation to incidents of robbery – a more serious crime than theft, as the perpetrator used force or threatened to use force in order to steal the asset(s) – the average value of the asset(s) stolen equalled €4,735.

Just over 60% of the 552 incidents of theft, where the value was recorded, showed the value of the asset(s) stolen amounted to between €101 and €1,000.

Value of asset(s) stolen in a theft incident by grouped value ranges. Source: ICSA

A total of 45 theft incidents was recorded across some of the ranges of value of €5,001 and above, although no stolen asset(s) in a theft incident was recorded at a value in the ranges in excess of €75,001, the report concluded.